By Stephen Downes
June 30, 2004

Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education-TOJDE July 2004
The July issue of TOJDE is online and presents what is probably their best issue to date. I cover three articles from this special issue. By Various Authors, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

From a Distance: Student Empowerment and Constructing Teacher Identities Online
This is pretty neat. "Teachers' identities are intertwined with various contexts and collaborative partnerships they encounter as practitioners." Consequently, "they are constantly challenged to unpack how this configures within a broader scheme of things." Personal identity is a fluid concept in an online world - I have many! - and, as the authors note, a fundamental element of communities of practice. A nice introductory exploration of an area that definitely needs more attention. By Ayshe Talay-Ongan, Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Beyond an Institutionalized Learning Environment
This article is interesting because it describes e-learning in the Philippines and because it looks at an approach especially appripriate to a nation characterized by "a lack of adequate landline facilities and Internet connections in far-flung and traditionally underserved areas of the country": SMS and instant messaging. "IM systems are useful to faculty in determining the level of student difficulties and to assess their performance. It gives one a picture of what is necessary to help students overcome their problems in the course." By Luisa D. Mariano and Nikki Philline C. De La Rosa, Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Benefits of An Online Discussion List in A Traditional Distance Education Course
The authors describe the use of online discussion in a nursing course at Central Queensland University and conclude that the exercise demonstrated "success in fostering an environment where students could develop higher order thinking." This they attribute to "ensuring the elements of a constructivist model of learning were incorporated in the design and use of the discussion list." This conclusion does not follow from the study, since they do not set up and test similar discussion list where constructivist principles were not employed; it may be possible that a discussion list promotes higher order thinking with or without constructivist elements. Still, the article is a good one, clearly illustrating the design and use of the discussion list and well supported with a good theoretical discussion. By Julie Bradshaw and Leone Hinton, Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

One Last Night in Hammamet
I'm just going to link to the home page of Andy's blog because he has about eight or ten posts absolutely worth reading as he describes his experiences in Tunisia as a delegate to the WSIS prep-con. He also refers us to summary of the meeting. If any Canadians are reading this - I have utterly no idea what Canada's participation has been, who our representatives are, or what they said. Can somebody - anybody - give me a line on this? Meanwhile, Bonnie Bracey brings us this link to Tunisian youth - " TakingITGlobal Tunisia is a web-based platform for ideas and expression, a resource of opportunities, and a network of inspirational young people and their projects." Finally, in a wry afterthought, it appears that while the world may be meeting in Tunisia to talk about the internet, people in Tunisia cannot use the web to talk about Tunisia. Which, of course, brings us back again to Andy's summary. By Andy Carvin, Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth, June 30, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Facts About Basic Education in Developing Countries
Just in case we need a refresher about the importance of what we are doing. "Basic education is a fundamental building block for all development initiatives. Educated people are more likely to seek modern medical care, understand the consequences and treatment of infectious diseases and treat illnesses correctly. Farmers with just four years of education are nine percent more productive than their uneducated counterparts." Via WWWEDU. By Unsigned, Academy for Educational Development, Undated [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blackboard's Screeching IPO
More analysis of the Blackboard IPO. What struck me was this remark: "Another great characteristic of the business is that there are significant costs to switching from one software package to another." OK, Earth to Fool: this is not an advantage. Oh, I know, investors leap at lock-in like slathering dogs for a hanging beeksteak, but to me when such a huge impediment as this is depicted as "great" it simply reminds me of the impoverished ethic of the business investor. By Richard Gibbons , The Motley Fool, June 24, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

UKeU: The Movie
This sort of dedication deserves praise. The author "sat through the whole 2 hours 14 minutes of the evidence about UKeU given to the Parliamentary Education and Skills Committee" which was broadcast by the UK Parliament's video streaming service (you see how citizen reporting works, right? We don't hire someone from the Times to go and sit in the legislature any more - we stream the proceedings and anyone who is interested watches it and writes a summary). By Derek Morrison, Auricle, June 29, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Amplify (Corrected Link)
Corrected link for Amplify. Sorry about that. Also worth noting along the same lines is SoftChaos's Webstractor, a product that allows you to save, edit and merge web pages. Very frustrating though - the site provides absolutely no installation instructions and does not even tell you whether it works on Windows or Mac or whatever. Update from Douglas Norton of SoftChaos: "Sorry for the confusion, and thanks for bringing this to our attention. All our products require a Macintosh. We do not support any of the systems you list. I have updated our website so that the system requirements are hopefully more prominent." By Various Authors, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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